Chapter 241: The Double Crown (2)
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Come again?” Nam Kyung asked, and Juho repeated what he had said slowly, “I said I’m accepting Kelley Coin’s invitation to go to the US.”
“His house as in…”
“Yes, Coin’s house.”
“You mean you’re going to Kelley Coin’s house!?”
A slew of words came up in the editor’s mind. ‘But, what about school? This is so sudden. What about the manuscript that’s being revised as we speak? The Hugo Award announcement is right around the corner.’ However, what came out of his mouth had nothing to do with those thoughts in his mind.
“Are you going with somebody from Dong Baek Publishing Company?”
“No. This is an informal invitation. It’s personal.”
When Juho informed Jang Mi, her reaction hadn’t been far from Nam Kyung’s. Recently, Dong Baek Publishing Company was experiencing a steady increase in their stock price as Juho was nominated for the Hugo Award and formally invited to Worldcon, making him the first Korean to be invited there. With the massive festival that was Worldcon, where people would rent entire hotel buildings for different nations’ delegations, Jang Mi was in a critical position. If things had been normal, Juho, too, would be there.
“Are you going with your parents?”
“No, I was planning on going by myself. It’s not like I have trouble communicating with them or anything. Besides, Isabella told me that she’ll come and pick me up.”
“It’s a rough world out there. You’re a VIP, Mr. Woo. Don’t forget that,” Nam Kyung said, but his intention was obvious. As Juho pretended to be oblivious, the editor brought up what was in his mind plainly, “I’ll go with you as your guardian.”
It was obvious that he was desperate to take hold of the opportunity to visit Kelley Coin at his home.
“I don’t know if that’d be necessary.”
“All right, fine. I wanna go too, OK?”
Before long, the editor spilled the truth. It wasn’t rare for one to fly overseas when working for a publishing company. In fact, Nam Kyung had made a trip to Japan recently. Nevertheless, when it came to a matter regarding Yun Woo, who was essentially Korea’s first, internationally acclaimed author, it only made sense that his publisher would prioritize the author. Nam Kyung explaining himself without even breathing, and needless to say, the young author had expected Nam Kyung to say those things from the moment he started talking.
“OK. The more the merrier, I guess.”
“Great! I’ll take care of the plane tickets.”
“Oh, that won’t be necessary. Isabella told me that she’ll be covering for our flight.”
The editor was delighted to hear that. Then, he began to ask about the details shortly after.
“But, why the invitation all of a sudden?”
Juho thought back to his phone call with Isabella. He had received the call right after arriving home from school. Though more timely, the call had left Juho puzzled initially, as it wasn’t often that she called the young author personally. When he answered, he heard Isabella’s brighter-than-usual voice.
“So, Mr. Coin wants to invite you to his house.”
It was simply out of the blue.
“Oh, uh… I appreciate it and all, but… why?”
‘He probably wants to catch up with you.’
There was no way that Kelley Coin’s editor-in-charge would say something like that. It was highly unlikely that Coin would invite someone to his house simply out of good will. Then, upon reading the young author’s demeanor, Isabella started beating around the bush, “As you already know, the Hugo Award Ceremony is just around the corner now.”
“Right. The convention is in August, I believe.”
“Right. And we, as in Mr. Coin and myself, will be attending the ceremony on your behalf. The convention is going to be held in Denver this year, and let me tell you, it’s a beautiful place. It’s really close to the Rocky Mountains. Although, it’s a bit far from where we are.”
“… you’re saying?”
“So, Mr. Coin is insisting on sharing this wonderful opportunity with you. Should you decide to come, we’re willing to cover your plane ticket here,” she said quickly but precisely. Though she was speaking in a calm tone of voice, it was clear that even she knew how ridiculous her request was. Having grasped an idea of the situation through the conversation, Juho realized that the invitation was coming from a place of mischief, making Yun Woo endure hours and hours in an airplane.
It wasn’t hard to imagine Coin throwing a tantrum, refusing to go to the ceremony. He had to have come up with plausible arguments. What a child would normally joke about, the infamous author would say wholeheartedly and carry it out. Meanwhile, Isabella was relaying the situation to the young author, all while avoiding speaking ill of the author she had worked with.
“You’re not asking me to attend the ceremony myself by any chance, are you?”
“Oh, no. You don’t have to worry about that, Mr. Woo.”
“Is he aware that I’m underaged?”
“He is, unfortunately.”
“Does he know that I’m in school, still?”
“Yes, he does.”
The Hugo Award Ceremony was going to take place after the break was over. As the young author pondered, Isabella added, “You’re more than welcome to decline, Mr. Woo.”
“I don’t know…”
“There’s always next time, like the winter break. Coin will understand that much.”
Then, after some brief contemplation, Juho said, “I’ll go.”
“What was that?”
“I’ll just skip school for a few days. Gotta get my trophy. Although, there’s no promise that I’m actually getting one.”
At that, Isabella answered by reflex, “A lot of people consider you to be one of the most prominent candidates. Are you really coming though?”
“How can I not? I was invited by Coin.”
“Are you sure? You can always turn it down, you know,” she said, as if wanting him to for some reason. However, If anybody were to ask the young author if he would rather go to school or to the house of a world-renowned author, he wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter. On top of that, the fact that Juho was an author himself made the decision-making process even easier.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“Thank you, Mr. Woo. I’m sure Coin will be delighted to hear this. I’ll look in to that ticket right away,” she said quietly and hung up.
Juho swallowed the cold beverage that traveled up through the straw. It was sweet and delightful. Meanwhile, Seo Kwang was giving him a dumbfounded look. Then, Juho nodded affirmingly.
“And you’re going AFTER school starts? Aren’t you a junior?”
Because he was attending summer school, Seo Kwang was still in his uniform. His head hung low as the young author shrugged it off. His mother was behind him by the register, busy making drinks.
“You know what? It’s Kelley Coin of all people. You have to go. I know I would. Who cares about school?” Seo Kwang said. His fist shaking on the desk was telling Juho how he was really feeling.
“I’m so jealous,” Seo Kwang said, adding quietly, “Must be nice being Yun Woo.”
“Well, bring back bunch of pictures, all right? I promise I’ll keep them to myself.”
“As long as the host lets me.”
“And Kelley Coin is that host! This is insane!!” Seo Kwang said frantically. Considering that his friend was going to miss school for a few days in order to go to the US under invitation from Kelley Coin, it only made sense that Seo Kwang would get that excited. Those were things that Seo Kwang could only dream of.
“You know what? I’m giving you the copy of his book I keep for preservation.”
“I want you to get it signed.”
That was quite the tall order.
“You do realize whose house I’m going to, right?”
“Not even you, though?”
“Not even me.”
Seo Kwang sighed deeply at Juho’s disappointing answer. At that moment, Juho remembered another person who had had a similar reaction.
“Baron had the same reaction as you.”
“Oh, yeah! Baron,” Seo Kwang let out, looking up and adding that he had visited the store recently.
“You know, it must be nice being on break as a college student,” Seo Kwang said with the genuine longing of a high school student.
“But it seems like college students have their own problems to deal with.”
“I’m sure they do.”
“Baron told me that he’s been going around looking for a part-time job.”
Baron, too, was aware that Juho was going to the US, and when he heard the news for the first time, he sighed heavily and said, “I guess the world is your oyster, still.”
“And what did Sun Hwa have to say?” Juho asked.
“She just slapped me on the back. I think she’s been getting stressed out preparing for the SAT.”
Sun Hwa was the most mindful of her GPA out of the entire Literature Club. Because she had been maintaining impressive grades up to that point, she was aiming for the top universities within Seoul. Since establishing her goal of being a teacher, she had been working even harder to maintain her grades.
In the meantime, while Seo Kwag was resting his chin on his hand, Juho stared into the wall for a little while and asked, “What about Bom?”
“She said ‘Have a safe a trip.'”
“Yep. Oh, she wants you to bring something back for her.”
“That was disappointing.”
“Bo Suk’s eyes though. They were so sparkly that I had a hard time looking away.”
“I can only imagine… And the twins?”
“I told them that you’re going on a trip. I mean, it’s not a lie technically,” Seo Kwang said, snickering quietly. Then, he added, “Man, just imagine the look on their faces when they put the pieces together.”
The club members saw Juho off, each reacting differently to his trip. Meanwhile, Seo Kwang drank his coffee.
“So, when are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow?!” Seo Kwang asked with a puzzled look on his face, as though wondering what the young author was still doing in his store. Then, Juho waved his hand in order to reassure his friend.
“I’ve already packed everything.”
“Still. Aren’t you a little too laid back right now?” Seo Kwang grumbled, scratching his head and rising from his seat. Then, after pulling a book out of a shelf, he handed it over to Juho. It was one of the books being sold in the cafe.
“You’re gonna be flying for a while. Read that while you’re in the plane.”
It was a traveler’s journal written by Hermann Hesse after his trip to India.
“But I’m going to the US.”
“That’s why I specifically chose that book. I’d be spoiling your trip if I were to I give you a similar book written by someone who went to the same country you’re going to.”
“Well, thanks. Although, I don’t know if I’ll have the time to read it.”
“Why? Do you have things to do?”
“Then you take care of that first,” Seo Kwang said emphatically, and nodding haphazardly, Juho opened the book Seo Kwang had given him. While Hermann Hesse’s books tended to be a bit difficult to understand at times, they were good reads for the most part. In the end, the young author ended up reading through the entire book before he had to leave for the airport the next morning.
“You look tired,” Nam Kyung said as they met in front of the airport, and Juho simply smiled. Although Isabella had prepared first class, direct flight tickets for them, simply the thought of having to stay in the same space for fourteen hours was quite suffocating to the young author. While Nam Kyung took advantage of the first-class services and pressed every button around him, Juho focused on revising his manuscript for most part of the trip, stopping only for meals.
Then, while Juho was eating, a foreigner struck up a conversation with him on his way back from the restroom.
“You seemed to be hard at work. What you got there, if you don’t mind me asking?”
He had to be curious of the restless keyboard noises that he had been hearing. While feeling Nam Kyung studying the situation, Juho said carelessly, “I’m writing.”
“I knew it!”
“It’s a novel.”
Although he appeared to be slightly taken aback by how fluent the young author’s English was, the foreigner smiled at Juho’s answer. Then, upon realizing that he had someone to talk to in his native tongue, words started gushing out of the foreigner, “You know, I wrote a script when I was young, too. I was the protagonist of the story.”
“What happened to it?”
“It became fodder for my wife’s laughter. I still have it, though.”
The foreigner had a keen interest in writing. Then, as he tried to peek into Juho’s laptop, Nam Kyung jumped out of his seat, and Juho covered the screen even quicker. Smiling brightly, the foreigner said, “I understand. I won’t beg you to show me what you’re working on.”
“I appreciate that.”
“Well, break a leg.”
With that, the foreigner returned to his seat, and Nam Kyung, too, sat back in his seat with a sigh of relief.
“You have to protect your manuscript at all cost,” the editor whispered, asking the flight attendant passing by for glass of whiskey.
“Of course. I’ve done this long enough.”
“You tend to let your guard down at times because you don’t know just how famous you are.”
“Well, I just look like an ordinary student on the outside,” Juho said to the editor in response to his nagging. To which, Nam Kyung nodded affirmingly. The young author looked out the window at the bed of clouds.